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Book Review

Book Cover

Humpty's Bones


Author: Simon Clark
RRP: £9.95, US $17.95, Cdn $19.95
ISBN: 978 1 84583 051 9
Available 25 March 2010

Something nasty is found in a village garden by an amateur archaeologist, something which has lain buried for centuries, and which has seen tribute paid to it by generations of local inhabitants. But what happens when the bones are removed and Humpty once more stalks the Earth?...

Telos continues it run of publishing interesting material with a new novella by Simon Clark. Humpty’s Bones is a horror story which works on the premise that some things are better left undisturbed.

The story's main protagonist, Eden Page, goes to stay with her aunt in the country, following a fire at her home, which was started by a relative stranger. Her Aunt and husband are odious people and soon Eden is regretting accepting their hospitality, but something has caught her interest.

At the bottom of the garden Eden’s aunt had uncovered some bones in an unusual grave, unusual as the evidence would suggest that not only did the Romans divert a road around the site, but that people have been placing money in the grave from before even that period. When the bones are finally excavated another mystery is revealed as the skeleton appears intact but the head is missing, in its place lies, what appears to be, the head of a dog.

What a fine piece of writing Simon Clark has turned in. Unlike novels, novellas and short stories are much harder to write, so it’s nice to see an almost pitch perfect example of one. Through the pages Clark builds the paranoia and claustrophobia of the house as the residents find themselves besieged by something, something which moves too fast to see properly, though it leaves the impression that there is something wrong about the shape of its head. This against a backdrop of desolation and isolation provided by the rural setting and his use of suggestion rather than brutal description made the novella quite a compelling read.

Initially I did have a problem with Eden, as the narrative progressed she seemed to be able to come up with all the right answers too easily, however this turned out to be deliberate and is satisfactorily explained towards the end of the piece.

The main story is accompanied by a short story Danger Signs and Other Allurements which is a cautionary tale about why you really should take notice of signs which read "Danger, keep out." Both pieces are accompanied by an introduction from the author.


Charles Packer